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Stephanie Raper
In the Loop Editor

Discovery Lab Activities

The students at the Grenada Upper Elementary School are blasting into the new year with the theme, “Our Ever Changing Earth”.  This year GUES will use the Discovery Lab units as school-wide units for all subject areas.  The four units will take place each nine weeks and all teachers including art and music are incorporating the theme into their lessons.  Following up the first unit will be “Wonders of the World”, “Powering Up!”, and “Heroic Measures”. All four units are Science and Social Studies-based which allows the Language Arts and Reading teachers to tie those subject areas into their lessons in the classroom.

Last fall the Discovery Lab students learned about the rover, Curiosity, which launched on November 26, 2011. On August 5, 2012, this amazing robotic rover landed on Mars.  The Discovery Lab 2012-2013 t-shirt builds on the excitement of this new rover, with its robot-inspired design.  Curiosity carried the most advanced payload of scientific gear ever used on Mars’ surface, a payload almost 10 times more massive than those of earlier Mars rovers. Curiosity’s assignment:  Investigate whether conditions have been favorable for microbial life and for preserving clues in the rocks about possible past life on the planet.

Students will learn about rovers in the first weeks of school as they participate in Rocket Racers.  In this activity students design and construct a racer from every day items such as balloons, Styrofoam trays, drinking straws, and much more. “I was beyond excited when local 4H agent, Jan Walton, called me and asked if I would be interested in doing a NASA sponsored lesson,” stated Melody Shaw, Discovery Lab Director.  “I jumped at the chance to bring in NASA and Mrs. Walton who has worked with the Discovery Lab many times in the last several years.  Not only did we have Jan’s help, we also were able to buy the 650 Styrofoam trays at cost, thanks to Spain's Supermarket."

Another NASA sponsored lesson on Comets follows up Rocket Racers.  The students will create edible models of comets during this exiting session.  John C. Stennis Space Center representatives will visit GUES on September 12 to present two programs for the students and teachers.  This thrilling event will culminate the space science activities with NASA.  During the programs students will get to see Stennis’ new inflatable robot, Orbie, and will learn about living and working in space. The students will also send a message to Curiosity by leaving their signature and message on a Signature Banner that will be displayed during the presentation.

This is just a sneak peak into what is planned in the first weeks of school in the Discovery Lab.  Many more exciting events for the students are scheduled throughout the year.  Parents and the community are always welcome to visit the lab and/or help out with lessons.  Contact Melody Shaw at GUES if you are interested in helping sponsor a lesson or would like to volunteer during a lesson.
***Thanks to Melody Shaw for contributing this article